In part 1 I wrote about both “hosting” and “frameworks” as two of the core elements of a fast, secure and solid WordPress website. In this post I wanted to look in more detail at some of what I feel are the essential plugins available for WordPress and list up my favourite plugins. However, once I got writing about the first plugin I went too far and decided to feature just the single plugin this time round.
Forms – Gravity Forms by Rocketgenius
As soon as I came across Gravity Forms (thanks to Studiopress), I fell in love with it. It is by far and away THE MOST ADVANCED form creation and management plugin available for WordPress, bar none. What makes GF so amazing is that for the beginner, the beautiful and intuitive IU makes it a breeze to use, and yet the advanced options available allow the most adventurous of developer room to create any kind of seriously complex form.
Not only is GF simple to set up and use but it’s some very cool features that make the plugin worth every penny of the $39 a year subscription fee.
CSS Classes – By popping in some predefined classes into the form fields you can make things on your form look good. An example would be having 2 fields sit side by side (e.g. name and email address) instead of having each on a separate line. If you wanted 3 fields on the same line, again throwing a CSS class into the 3 fields activates this automatically.
Conditionals – A good example of conditionals in action is on my Nagoya-info website here - change the options in the “classified genre” drop down box and see how the form fields change automatically. This is essentially what the conditionals do. depending on what option the user selects, you can have different form fields appear or disappear or even have a field populated dynamically. As you probably imagine, you can make some very complex forms with this functionality already.
Automatic Post Creation – This took me a while to get my head around but thankfully I have it now. This option allows you to have a post or page created automatically based on the information submitted by a user. A really simple example of this would be if you started accepting guest blog submissions on your site. You could create a form with Title, Body and Tags fields so that a user would simply fill it in and submit. You get a draft post automatically created and ready for review. Taking this a step further as I have done on Nagoya-info.com here, you can produce something quite advanced. I wanted to create a job advertisement based on a submission from a company looking to advertise open positions for their company. I wanted the submission to insert itself inside a predefined table I had created in html to make it look nice. Now, when a company submits a job using the form, all the fields in the table populate automatically to give me an instant job posting – nice, isn’t it? See the result here.
In addition to the highlighted functionality above so many other features come as core – automatic & customizable notifications to admin and submitter after submission, ability to limit number of submissions or have the form live for a set period, multi-page forms which give the user a series of steps to go through for a successful submission – and these are just a few.
Gravity Forms is as hard-core yet simple to use a plugin as you could wish to find on WordPress for managing all kinds of contact with site visitors. It’s continually updated and new features are always (and I mean always) being added by the amazing team at Rocketgenius. Gravity Forms is unequivocally the best plugin I have ever purchased for WordPress and I recommend (that if you need advanced forms or submissions) you to also grab a license.
Give it a spin by clicking the banner below
I will say this though, I wouldn’t buy a Gravity Forms License if all I wanted was a simple contact form getting feedback about my site. The contact forms module available in the Jetpack plugin is simple, elegant and powerful enough to handle this and more.